Did you know? January is National Train Your Dog Month! There isn’t a better time to start thinking about training your furry family member than the first of the year. January is a fantastic month to set some fun, new goals for you and your pet to achieve.
Consider exploring some basic obedience exercises with your dog over the next month. Regardless if you have a new puppy in the family, or an elderly dog, it’s never too late to work with your pet on improving certain behaviors. Let’s get started!
Basic Training or Behavioral Therapy? Understand the Difference
First, it’s important to understand the difference between addressing more serious behavioral issues in your pet, and attempting to teach your dog basic obedience skills.
If your dog demonstrates some of the following behaviors, we recommend speaking with a trained animal professional rather than trying to address and fix the problem yourself:
- Separation anxiety
- Storm phobia
- Unruly Behaviors (such as jumping, digging, barking, etc.)
- Aggression to people
- Aggression to other animals
- Compulsive behaviors
- Cognitive dysfunction
Ultimately, pets can have a wide variety of behavioral issues, from potty-training problems to severe anxiety. When attempting to train your dog, be sure you’re not misdiagnosing your pet’s behavior for something less serious than what may be going on
At Hometown Vet, we’re not animal trainers but we are experienced in diagnosing behavior problems and addressing them with an approach that combines skills from veterinary clinical medicine, behavioral medicine, and pet training.
Our goals are to help pets and their owners live together comfortably and safely, and to help restore the bond between pets and their families. Contact us today to speak to our team about how you can better train your dog, and work through some more serious behavioral issues.
Basic Obedience Skills to Explore
To begin training your dog, consider starting with a few more basic commands. This will serve as a fun, new challenge for both you and your pet! Here are a few to begin with:
Step 1: Start with your do’s favorite treat. Hold the treat close to your dog’s nose.
Step 2: Move your hand directly up in the air, above the dog’s head. This will allow his head to follow the treat and cause his bottom to lower.
Step 3: Once he’s in sitting position, say “sit,” give him the treat. Be sure to congratulate him afterwards!
Step 4: Consider asking your dog to ‘sit’ before mealtime and when leaving for walks.
Step 1: First, be sure you’re positive and relaxed while trying this training with your dog. Especially with dogs that are fearful or anxious.
Step 2: First, have your dog ‘sit.’ Then, take your dog’s favorite treat and hold it in your closed fist. Hold your hand up to your dog’s nose. When he sniffs it, move your hand to the floor, so he follows.
Step 3: Then slide your hand along the ground in front of him to encourage his body to follow his head.
Step 4: Once he’s in the down position, say “down,” give him the treat. Congratulate him once he is in the position.
Step 5: Be sure not to push your dog into a down position, or to force him into the position. It’s important to be patient and positive as they’re trying to learn!
Step 1: First, ask your dog to “sit.”
Step 2: Then open the palm of your hand in front of you, and say “Stay.” Take a few steps back. Reward him with a treat and affection if he stays.
Step 3: Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the treat. Always reward your pup for staying put — even if it’s just for a few seconds.
Step 4: This is an exercise in self-control for your dog, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to master, particularly for puppies and high-energy dogs. After all, they want to be on the move and not just sitting there waiting.
As you try these exercises and begin to train your dog, be sure not to rush the process. Remember, you’re asking a lot of your dog. If you take it up a notch and he’s really struggling, go back to the previous stage.